Former Nintendo employee Masayuki Uemura died this week. The longtime engineer was responsible for designing two of Nintendo’s most important consoles, and even played a hand in developing some classic NES games. He was 78.
Uemura joined Nintendo in 1971 after having worked at the Sharp Corporation where he sold photocell tech. During his early days at Nintendo, he helped bring in and develop this technology into what would eventually become the NES Zapper popularized by Duck Hunt.
Uemura’s true claim to fame came a few years later when he was commissioned to design a system that let users play arcade games at home on their TV. The Famicom was released in Japan in July 1983 before making its way to North America a couple of years later with a new look and a new name: the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Not content to rest on his laurels, Uemura soon began working on the successor to the Famicom, the aptly named Super Famicom. This 16-bit system debuted in the US in 1991 as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Both systems are among the top 15 best-selling consoles of all time, but their rankings do little to convey just how important they are in the history of gaming. The original NES was largely responsible for bringing an end to the video game crash of 1983, and the SNES helped solidify Nintendo’s position as a top competitor alongside rival Sega in the early 90s.
Uemura also worked on several games during his time at Nintendo, including classics like Ice Climber, Baseball and Golf. He retired from Nintendo in 2004 and became a professor at Ritsumeikan University. He died on December 6, 2021.